Day trip to Keswick and Castle Rigg

Keswick Travel Blog

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Waiting at the Grasmere bus stop to catch a bus to Keswick

And so... another day, another hike! The Lake District offers so much of opportunity to hike that it's impossible to describe. Each of the roommates I befriended was going to another place for hiking! I got the best news when I woke up in the morning - my camera started working again! So in celebration, I took a picture of the view from outside my room! The weather had also improved, the clouds were thinner and the sun was barely peeking. Went for b'fast in the neighbouring buidling - this was the part I hated the most about this hostel. Having to dress up just to go have a cup of tea. Anyway finished b'fast, and the plan for the day was to go to one of L.D's bigger cities - Keswick. The highlight of this town is the nearby Castle Rigg.

Drive to Keswick

Being a big town, and having Grasmere only about 20 mins away by bus, the frequency is very good to Keswick. And the route - bus # 555  I was told cannot be missed - it has one of the most picturesque drives. So we boarded the bus around 1130a. I must say though - I was a bit disappointed with the bus frequency. Not so much the frequency as the reliability. The bus was supposed to come at 1104am  and it didn't show up till 1130a. Not very impressive! But the wait in the bus stop wasn't so bad. The weather was brilliant. Lovely breeze just swooshing its way through the road, you could see the leaves falling from the trees being blown all over the street, it was just very impressive.

Drive to Keswick
And then came the double decker bus, and I was all in anticipation for this route.

The route by itself didn't impress me that much. Was it bad? Not at all! It's just that, it was just another ride in the Lake District. Everything looks so clean - the trees, the rivers, and I loved those little streamlets that flow by the road, right next to the little rock walls. And not a single person in sight! I know I come from Texas and I'm used to seeing the quiet, but this was a totally different experience for me. I've been to Scotland where I've seen wilder and greener, but this was so clean and so washed and so quiet.

Reached Keswick around noon, it looks like a big city. It doesn't have the peaceful flavour of an Ambleside or a Grasmere, but still has a lot of warmth. The city centre is nice - this city has tons of eating places it appears.

Keswick city centre
The road to the city centre is paved with pasty shops, and tearooms, and chocolate and pastry shops. It's just eating eating eating everywhere! The visitor's centre is very well equiped. I loved how they had brochures of all the nice walks in the area, and this display board that lights up with the route if you choose the destination you want to go.

I was hungry - picked up a spicy veg pasty, and then went to another tearoom for some cream tea. I have somewhat been disappointed with cream tea in the Lake District. They end up giving awful cream, you can tell it's not as natural clotted as the ones I had in Cornwall in May. Finished the cream tea and headed to Castle Rigg. As with all walks in this area, it's not so much the destination but the actual journey that is worth it.

Cream tea!

People talk about the sacrifices they make for the sake of travel. Some quote jetlag, some quote staying in crummy hotels, for me it was days like today and y'day that defined the extent of how much I love travelling, and what lengths I'd go to. The first part of the walk was good - very dry and windy, yet a lovely neighbourhood overlooking a green expanse, which in turn overlooked a lake (or in L.D speak - a tarn!). But as we started following the path to Castle Rigg, it got quieter and quieter, greener and greener and MUDDIER and MUDDIER. I've never walked in such muddy paths ever, my shoes were soaked with mud (God bless overpants), and it was one of those "do I continue or turn back" kind of moments. But we walked and walked, and eventually made it to Castle Rigg.

The walk was really nice though - so quiet.

Walk to Castle Rigg
That's one thing I'm really loving about the Lake District - hikes are popular but you hardly see people around you and it's not that commercialised at all. I can definitely see the tourism draw. And Castle Rigg arrived!  First of all, sue the tourism books for conveniently going on an early morning when there's lots of mist and taking pictures of this place, leading people to believe that it's on a higher plane. But really - it's as flat as can be.

A bit of history about Castlerigg: It's one of the most visually impressive prehistoric monuments in Britain and is the most visited stone circle in Cumbria.  The stones are of a local metamorphic slate set in a flattened circle.

Walk to Castle Rigg
Within the circle is a roughly rectangular setting of a further 10 stones. The circle was probably constructed around 3200 BC making it one of the earliest stone circles in Britain and possibly Europe, too.  There is a tradition that it is impossible to count the number of stones within Castlerigg; every attempt will result in a different answer, but that's old story - today only a few number of stones are left and it IS easy to count. 

So we finished Castlerigg, and headed back to Keswick through a different route. This one was more city-ish and a different cleaner walk, thank God. As soon as I arrived back in Keswick, I headed to the Pencil Museum. I must say, I've visited a lot of funny places in the world (the last one that comes to mind is a little Possum store in New Zealand where they make possum pies) but I've never visited a pencil museum.

Walk to Castle Rigg
I thought it'd be ok for a laugh, but surprisingly I really enjoyed it. It was cool reading the history of a pencil, which of the world's regions are rich in lead and how regular/leaded versus coloured pencils are made. The museum is tiny but very informative. There's this display that has pencils in show from the last few decades, very impressive.

I was starving way too much now, and badly needed a snack. What I've noticed about myself in the UK is that I prefer eating pastries and the quick fixes over long drawn out lunches. So I searched out one of the many coffee shops in town, and ordered a Victorian sandwich cake. It was really tasty - I am just surprised by the quality and variety of pastries here. And they seem so real. Anyway headed back to Grasmere after a wonderful and non-rainy day in Keswick, reached the hostel around 7pm and had a relaxed evening. Spent time sorting things out, cooked Indian curry and naan and surfed the internet to catch up on the latest NFL scores. Overall, great day, couldn't believe the first part of my holidays were coming to an end!

WalterC says:
A pencil museum? I am very curious!
Posted on: Apr 15, 2015
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Waiting at the Grasmere bus stop t…
Waiting at the Grasmere bus stop …
Drive to Keswick
Drive to Keswick
Drive to Keswick
Drive to Keswick
Keswick city centre
Keswick city centre
Cream tea!
Cream tea!
Walk to Castle Rigg
Walk to Castle Rigg
Walk to Castle Rigg
Walk to Castle Rigg
Walk to Castle Rigg
Walk to Castle Rigg
approaching Castle Rigg
approaching Castle Rigg
Castle Rigg
Castle Rigg
Castle Rigg
Castle Rigg
Pencil Museum, Keswick
Pencil Museum, Keswick
Victorian sandwich cake
Victorian sandwich cake
Keswick
photo by: sarahsan